Thank you for your patience. The unexpected illness and eventual death of George's father this spring delayed our plans for many months, but we are finally back on the road. Over the next six months we expect to bicycle 4,000 miles as we explore each county of the state of New Mexico. Our goal is to document that which cannot be found in travel guides---the pulse of the people. We will share the ingenious ways simple problems are solved; the trends, pleasures and difficulties of various life styles; and the evolution of the creative process in diverse communities where we stop to do art projects.
The newsletter will share the special experiences, people and places we discover that can only be experienced by taking time to travel slowly without the restraints of a predetermined schedule. Our choice to travel by bicycles seems to be a novelty which opens many doors. As we explore New Mexico, we hope to become a theme for schools throughout the state where students will be inspired to learn more about the cultures, history, and geography of New Mexico. Each newsletter will have Challenge Questions and Vocabulary Words that teachers can discuss with their students. Participants will learn about the natural resources of their own counties and will be invited to participate in a unique learning exchange. As a common theme for many followers, we hope PROJECT NEW MEXICO will build bridges within and between communities throughout the state.
If vicarious living is not your style, please join us along the way!
Your pedaling pals, George & Holly
Total miles so far: 276.
High temp: 95f.
Problems with Holly's bike so far: 1.
Hello everybody, this is Holly and George writing to you from the Magdalena Cafe. We finally got underway 5:30 pm on July 4th under the watchful eyes of channel 13 (CBS). Holly is proud to say she is totally caught up with her 3 years of past paper work and projects.
Our first night was spent behind the Water Canyon Lodge. (Fourteen miles outside Socorro). The climb up Sedillo hill didn't seem so bad after a cold beer at the landmark lodge. The family that lives at the Lodge treated us to a fireworks display that we viewed through the sky-light in our tent.
Magdalena offered us lots of old friends to visit, including the school principal who wants to get their kids involved with us on the internet . Our second night, after a dusty up-hill ride, was spent in a friends yard in Hop Canyon. The event for that night was a giant raccoon who ate the last of our raisins.
Remember, we have a low budget and no stove. We carry one pan with a lid which we use to cook things over a camp fire, but we are not always able to build camp fires....
As I pedal, the bike chain makes a constant hum,
But still it is much quieter than the whiz
Of passing cars and trucks.
A special treat they never hear
Is the delicate dance of the wind
Swirling through the leaves of
Hugging the edge of the road.
This road has some beautiful scenery and some great old ranches. In talking with several ranchers we learned that most have gone to 4 wheel ATV's.
Pine Hill, in Navajo country, was our next stop and where we met a Navajo artist who is a quadriplegic. He and Holly talked for a couple of hours which we feel was beneficial for all of us. We didn't get to see him paint but he told us he holds the brush in his mouth. He showed us some of his work and his talent is amazing. Tonight we are camped at El Morro National Park and will visit the Inscription Rock in the morning. In the afternoon we plan to visit the schools in Ramah, which educate the Navajo population. We expect to be in Zuni tomorrow night. The length of our stay there is unsure until we see if they want to participate in a community art project.....
Fence Lake has about fifty residents. The town has monthly meetings to take care of business. Residents may pay an annual fee of ten dollars to vote on issues. They clean the cemetery twice a year, take care of the community center building , and what ever else comes up. Every other odd year Fence Lake has an Old Settlers Reunion with a fiddler's contest, pot luck, BBQ, and dance. It is a two day affair the last weekend of July with about 200 visitors.
The eight kids that live in Fence Lake take the bus to Quemado for school (K-12). Most of the 200 kids at that school ride over 40 miles to get there, so it has longer hours and is on a four day schedule. On this trip, we have met several parents with kids attending the Quemado school, they all seem to be very happy with it.
Utilities?...The town has a well which operates cooperatively. Residents pay a flat fee of $25 per month for all their water. The volunteer fire department has about 20 members, and was highly praised. Electricity comes from Socorro. Fence Lake is the end of the line for electricity, so many ranch residents between Fence Lake and Pine Hill are not serviced. When we traveled through this area we learned most use solar power. Fence Lake does not have natural gas, but several trucks with butane service the area. Television comes to those that have satellite dishes, Radio reception is good from many directions including Albuquerque, Gallup, El Paso, and Yuma.
Jobs?...The town has five state hiway employees, one and a half postal employees, and one job at the store. Everyone else ranches.
Fence Lake has a community church. Most everyone goes to church on Sundays at 10 o'clock. It is non denominational; different traveling preachers pass through, or the men just speak a few words.
For entertainment, there is a dance held once a month in the summer. Women all make different types of crafts including: jewelry making, quilting, crocheting, painting, furniture restoration, and ceramics. The men also seem to have different skills. There is a mechanic, a welder, and an electrician. If a new skill is needed, someone will learn it.
Today the few crops grown in the area include rye, oats, and alfalfa. In the past, Fence Lake was the Bean Capital of the southwest. They had a bean house where farmers from all the surrounding communities would bring their beans. They had three bars, and four or five cafes. Up until this year someone has always had a crop of beans, they just volunteered. But this year has been very dry, there is not a bean in town.
Fence Lake has seen a lot of changes over the years, but the residents we met were proud of their town and happy to be there. The one complaint was that Cibola County does not maintain their roads. They think things would be better if they were in the jurisdiction of Catron County instead.
Now the earth is a dry powder. Weather is a favorite conversation among the locals. When will rain bring last year's short golden grass back to life?
As I return the stare of a big black bull taking refuge from the heat in the dark shade of a lone pinon, I wonder if he, too, is the end of an era?
IN CONCLUSION: We have been on the road just one week, we are excited to have found four school systems on the Internet, (Magdalena, Quemado, Ramah, and Zuni). We look foreword to the start of school next month to see how many students get involved. (Vocabulary list for this issue will also be minimal since school hasn't started yet.)
Meanwhile, our initial contacts at Zuni have been very supportive about participating in an art sculpture, so we look foreword to sharing this project with you in the next newsletter.
George & Holly
The Internet is basically the link of all computers in the world. "Home pages" are information sites created by individuals or institutions wishing to invite others to learn more about them. We now have a home page where anyone in the world can visit.
Information on home pages is usually in hypertext. This means that certain words lead to more information. These words are usually underlined or italicized. For example, in the sentence: ``The pueblo of Zuni is in McKinley County, New Mexico.'' The word `pueblo' may link to its definition. `Zuni' may link to the history, culture and crafts of the Zuni Indians. `McKinley County' may link to tourist hi-lights, and `New Mexico' may link to state.
Statistics: Our newsletter on the Internet will be in hypertext. Each link will be individually created by New Mexico Tech student volunteers.
Our home page is set up with PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE PROJECTS which link to the following information:
Trail's End (Summer `94). Sculptures for the entryway to the Rodeo grounds for the Village of Magdalena, New Mexico. Photos of this community collaboration were also featured in the April `95 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.
Einstein (Spring `95). Most recent sculpture for Socorro.
Here people can also ask us questions, and send messages. Students on the Internet can share stories and class projects. The newsletter will offer a vocabulary list and challenge questions that non-Internet students can explore.
Water in this area has a very high mineral content. So no one drinks it. Instead people bottle their own filtered water for 35 cents/gallon.
Vocabulary: Do these insects and plants have special symbolism and uses to Native Americans?
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